Summer is the season of high temperatures: one of the main reasons, but not the only one, to dehydrationidentified as a ‘excessive fluid loss which goes beyond the amounts introduced into the body.
Although this is a problem that has no age, children are more exposed to it, which often leaves parents with the question of how to behave and when to seek medical help. We elaborate on the topic with Dr. Roberta Levi, specialist in paediatrics at the nursing home La Madonnina.
The causes of dehydration
Common causes of infant dehydration include:
- gastrointestinal diseases causes vomiting and/or diarrhea;
- insufficient hydrationwhich may occur:
- during febrile illnesses;
- for insufficient feeding / breastfeeding;
- after excessive sweating due to e.g. intense physical activity (more rarely);
Symptoms of dehydration
The symptomatology indicating dehydration is not always easy to identify, especially in younger children who are therefore unable to speak. We must therefore be observant at events such as:
- lethargy and drowsiness;
- loss of appetite or decreased appetite;
- decrease in diuresis;
- weight loss;
- dry lips and mucous membranes;
- sunken eyes;
- sunken fontanelfor what concern newborn;
- rapid breathing;
- cry without tears.
“Especially with younger children is what is evaluated weight loss: a fall up to 2% corresponds to one mild dehydration; a fall in 5-7% instead, it indicates a dehydration that is starting to become more serious”, explains Dr. Levi.
Why are children more likely to become dehydrated?
The reasons why children become more dehydrated can be found in some factors, including:
- children’s body composition for 75% water, which is more prone to fluid loss than adults, which is 60% water;
- faster children’s metabolism which therefore have a higher basal water requirement than adults.
The risk of dehydration in children
Dehydration is absolutely not to be underestimated in children, especially in younger ones, who comes with very fast timing.
Particular attention must therefore be paid to people with chronic diseases where this variation in body fluids can also have important effects.
If appropriate measures are not taken and the phenomenon is neglected, the following may actually occur:
- damageeven serious for internal organs (this in the most advanced cases).
Beware of heat stroke
That heat stroke It is a sudden rise in body temperature caused by exposure to high ambient temperatures. The higher the humidity, the higher the risk.
It’s about one of the most frequent causes of dehydration in the summer since by increasing the tendency to sweat, if not properly rehydrated, significant fluid loss can occur.
Symptoms of heat stroke
The symptoms of heatstroke, in addition to those typical of dehydration, may also include:
- He bowed;
- feeling faint;
- fever or body heat to the touch.
The causes of heat stroke
The causes behind heatstroke can mainly be traced to:
- thermoregulation system not yet fully developed in the child that needs more time to lower its body temperature;
- smaller body surface area especially for infants who sweat less and take longer to dissipate heat.
How to rehydrate a baby
The pediatrician reminds that the therapy initially consists of administration of rehydrating saline solutions commonly found in the pharmacy in liquid or soluble format, and which already contain the right amount of salts, sugar and water, resulting in far better results than fruit juice and homemade preparations.
Mostly in case of vomitingif large amounts of liquid are given to the child, they may vomit, so it is necessary to continue with teaspoons (5/7 ml) with short intervals of 10/15 minutes each. If the child retains the ingested liquid, the doses are then gradually increased.
In the presence mainly of diarrhea on the other hand, you may want to rehydrate already in the first 4-6 hours with amounts that generally correspond to approx.
- 30-60 ml / kg solution for fluid loss mild;
- 60 ml/kg for a loss average;
- 100 ml/kg for a loss serious.
In the latter case, the frequency of the evacuation must of course be evaluated, but in any case it is always necessary to replenish the fluid loss.
What to do in case of heat stroke in children
If the child is suffering from heatstroke, you should also:
- transport it in an airy environment;
- figure it out so as not to make him sweat further;
- wet his head and body to lower the temperature and hydrate it;
- lay him down with his legs upif you feel weak;
- administer paracetamol and ibuprofenif you have a fever.
When do you have to go to the hospital?
Anyway, in case the child refuses to take moisturizing substances or within a few hours the situation continues not to improveit is necessary to go to the hospital for intravenous rehydration and to carry out appropriate medical checks.
How to prevent dehydration
The doctor remembers thatnutrition always plays an important role for the child and especially in the summer, when there must be one more attention even on vacation for food and drink which is administered to maintain good hydration and avoid gastroenteritis.
During the hot season, some useful measures to prevent dehydration may be:
- reduce food consumption fat and calorie content;
- favors carbohydrateswhich can quickly be used as an energy source, e.g fruit and vegetableswhich naturally contains water, vitamins and minerals;
- administer to the childif not autonomous, water more often;
- avoidespecially for children under the age of sun exposure and sports during the hottest hours of the day (from 11 to 17);
- use light-colored clothing and non-synthetic fibers;
- protect the baby’s head with a hat;
- often wet the head eif by the sea / swimming pooleven the baby’s bodyto cool it;
- use total protection sunscreensin case of exposure to the sun;
- avoid sudden changes from hot to cold which makes you sweat more and therefore promotes dehydration.